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WOHDEATER 57 STAFF: Virginia Fenili, Sandra Kacmarcik, Robin 
McV/illiams, Doug Paul, Patricia Shue, 
John Stobart, Michelle Ureche 

In order to get a selection published in this issue, four of 
the above had to vote for acceptance. 


Ordinarily, WOHDEATER swards $25 for prose, 
$25 for pee try, and $10 each for front and 
back cover art. Those prizes hold for 
WOHDEATER 57, except the prose award is 
being given for the best conclusion submitted 
for the story, "Sissy," which appeared in 
WORDEATER 56. "Sissy" reappears in this 
issue, beginning on page 18, with the winning 
conclusion added. John Stobart, who is the 
author of "Sissy," judged the contest. 




325 to Dan Howard 

i>25 to Paulette Georgantas 

320 to Renee Rovenhagon 

Manuscripts or cover designs for HEXT TWO DEADLZ7ZS: 

'.v'ORDEATER 59 must be submitted to 

John Stobart in room C-IO69 by: February 20, l?c"7 

April 17, 1^87 
February 20, I987 

Manuscripts will not be returned 

.and SHOULD 33 TYPED. 

All copyrights are retained by the 
authors .and materials may not be 
retsrinted without their tersissirn. 

Table of Contents 

Sandra Kacmarcik Rhymes for the ' 80s 1 

Steve Siedler An S. S. Satire 1 

Judy Belfield Nervine 3 

Ruth Bosard It' 3 A Dog's Life 3 

J. Raskowski English Rotor b 

Judy Belfield Full Circle 6 

Sandra Kacmarcik The Robot Room 6 

Doug Paul The City' s Finest 6 

Madonna Clarke The Lone Rider 8 

Judy Belfield Art Deco Dream 8 

Mary Dilworth Daybreak 8 

Doug Paul Child' s Play 10 

Judy Belfield Do No 10 

J. Raskowski Childhood Evil 10 

Ron Jackson Love 10 

Steve Siedler She 10 

Steve Black In A Bar In A Holiday Inn 11 

Joel Stepanek The Bar II 

Judy Belfield Sizzle 13 

Paulette Georgantas 'vhen He Left Her. . . _ 13 

Judy Belfield Depression 13 

Sandra Kacmarcik Forgive and Forget lit 

J . Raskowski Thorn IL. 

Kim Suski Inner Darkness li: 

Judy 3elf ield Collective Unconscious 13 

J. Raskowski If Now I Could Have 15 

Sandra Kacmarcik Life Lives 15 

Judy Belfield Dearth 15 

Penny Sartori Autumn 15 

Doug Paul Endless Summer 1c 

Sandra Kacmarcik Nature ' s Palette 16 

Judy Belfieli Finale lc 

Judy Belfield Trunk , Id 

Doug Paul Ictalurus Punctatus 17 

C 0_ H T E S T SISSY, with winning conclusion by 

Dan Howard 15 

Sandra Kacmarcik 


Bye Baby Bunting 

Bye baby bunting 
Daddy's going a-hunting 
To get a little ermine akin, 
To wrap his Hefner bunny in. 

Tricky Dicky 

Tricky Dicky 
Sat on the Gate. 

When he fell. 

He sealed his fate. 

All the great lawyers 
And all the States-men 
Couldn't put Dicky 
Together again. 

Twinkle, Twinkle 

Twinkle, twinkle, 
Ron's War Star. 

How I wonder 
If you are 

Up above the world 

So high 
Like a glass shield 

In the sky. 

I wish I may 
I wish I might, 

I wish, no one, 
Nukes us, tonight. 

Little Ron Reagan 

Little Ron Reagan, 

Don't blow your horn. 
The' b an ker' s in the meadow, 

The farmer's getting shorn; 
But where are the President 

And his Veep? 
In the White House 

Fast asleep. 
Will you wake them? 

No, not I, 
For if I do, 
They'll surely lie. 

Harold Be Nimble 

Harold be nimble, 
Harold be black, 

Harold jump over 

Wee Willie Twinkie 

Wee Willie Twinkie 

Runs through the town 
Upstairs and downstairs 

In a lady's gown. 

Rapping at the window 

Crying at the screen 
Are all you fairies in your beds': 

Here comes the queen! 


Steve Siedler 


I was in a foul mood for a Thursday. 
Things were beginning to make sense, 
and, to be hones, that scared the shit 
out of me. 

I was beginning to shake off the 
effects of a Wednesday-night-happy- 
hour Thursday morning hangover; in 
other words, the hell-no-I'm-not- 
hungover, I ' m-still-drunk syndrome. 
I began to remember witnessing the 
ultimate example of bar-fly stupidity, 
a bar fight. 

There was sons thing exciting about 
watching two externally mature people 

make heroic efforts to show which idiot 
was the most idiotic, especially when 
the stakes were so terribly important. 
Honestly, a dispute over a fifty-cent 
pool game is a powerful incsntive to 
commit assault, break glasses, become a 
public nuisance, and accidentally break 
the nose of a female bystander that had 
been attractive. I say had been, because 
it is uncertain what miracles modern 
medicine can guarantee. 

I am 3ure that she feels guilty, 
and justifiably so, for deciding to sit 
in the third chair from the left on a 



An S. S. Satire, continued 

Wednesday night. I am equally sure that 
today I seriously doubt any possibility 
of a positive prognosis concerning the 
future of the human race as a semi- 
intelligent species. 

Please excuse the sarcastic ram- 
bling, but idiots tend to piss me off. 

OK, story time. 

Three filthy children sat on a curb 
under a large tree, silver maple, if you 
like, as they are quite common in this 
area. No one even noticed them. They 
were small children, so, even though 
they were filthy, no one noticed any- 
thing unusual about them. 

There was a filthy girl-child, 
named Becky, who, despite the summer 
afternoon rolling- in- the- grass, little- 
kid dirt, was a very pretty little 
girl. She was rather small for her 
tender years, but had a smile that 
made crabby old men smile back at her. 
In fact, if Becky flashed her big 
green eyes, which she did frequently, 
even flabby ladies at garage sales 
would be quiet and notice. Becky was 
cute, and took advantage of that fact, 
although never to any devious degree. 

A filthy boy-child was present. 
His name was Bobby. Bobby was no fil- 
thier than the others, but it seemed 
that filthy was Bobby's natural state 
of existence. Everyone expected Bobby 
to be filthy and let it pass, because, 
other than being filthy, Bobby was a 
nice little boy. He never kicked dogs, 
or called old ladies names, or farted 
on anyone's head unless he was ex- 
tremely upset, so he rarely, if ever, 
farted on anyone's head. That was 
why people liked Bobby, even though 
he was usually filthy. 

Another filthy boy-child was pre- 
sent. His name was Mike, and he liked 
himself much more than anyone else 
liked him, which, even while young, 
tended to give Hike a bit of an at- 
titude problem. Let's be blunt. 
Mike was a little bastard. Even Mike's 
parents knew that Mike was the kind of 
little bastard that eventuallv grew 
up to be a big bastard. Mika.v«ke up 
in the morning knowing that he was 
a little bastard, and liking the idea. 
Mike looked forward to growing up to 
be a big bastard. 

As these three filthy children sat 
under the silver maple tree, they began 
to feel restless, as all children will, 
especially filthy ones. Mike began to 
crush ants with his right index finger, 
wiping the tiny ant bodies on Bobby' 3 
pants. Becky yelled at Mike to stop. 
Mike slapped Becky. Bobby got upset 
and farted on Mike ' a head. Bobby rarely 
farted on anyone s head, but Mike was 
a little bastard, ao it was all right. 

At this point, we leave our filthy 

little children and accelerate through the 
years in order to show our bigger filthy 
children. They were no longer nearly as 

3ecky had reached the age when older 
boys began to notice her. She was not 
quite sure how to react sometimes, but it 
was nice to get attention. She never com- 
plained, even when they teased her. She 
liked to be noticed, and even though they 
didn't really know how to show it, the 
boys liked to notice her. In Becky s little 
world, everybody liked everybody. It was 
a nice little world. 

Bobby liked Becky, too, and she thought 
that he was all right, especially after he 
stopped farting on people's heads. Bobby 
liked sports, so he was still usually fil- 
thy. He would start the day clean, but 
something always seemed to happen. 3obby 
was usually filthy, but he was a nice boy, 
so nearly everyone let it pass, although 
certain parents wouldn't let him sit on 
their furniture. 

Mike had, as predicted, grown to be 
a bigger bastard. Mike's father had even 
called him a bastard in front of witnesses 
once. Mike picked on little children 
frequently. He liked to pick on them be- 
cause they were little, and he had grown to 
be a bigger bastard. Mike liked being a 
bigger bastard even better than he had 
liked being a little bastard. 

One day, Bobby walked Becky home from 
school. Mike followed, and jumped from be- 
hind a tree to kick Bobby. Becky yelled 
at Mike to stop. Mike pulled her hair. 
Bobby set fire to Mike's books. They were 
growing up nicely. 

Seconds encompass years and we must 
now deal with young adults. Of course, 
our young adults do not consider themselves 
young. They are truly adults in every 
sense of the word. 

Becky was a cheerleader. She loved 
to jump up and down and yell. They boys 
liked to watch her jump up and down and 
yell. Becky liked to watch the boys as 
they watched her jump up and down and yell. 
It was great fun. Becky s little world 
was a wonderful little world. Everyone 
liked her, and she knew it. She was 
fairly certain that it had something to 
do with the way that she jumped up and 
down and yelled. Becky was pretty even 
when she just 3at there. Life was won- 

Bobby worked in a garage after school. 
In case you were wondering, yes, Bobby was 
as filthy as ever. He and the rest of 
the crew had wonderful times squirting 
automotive liquids on one another. In 
fact, on some afternoons, the cars were 
aompletely forgotten 30 that automotive 
licuid wars could be staged. Somehow, 
Bobby was never around when Mr. Snygmph, 
the owner, came in. He was always 'under- 
neath a car. Mr. Snygmph liked Bobby, 
because 3obby was always underneath a car. 


An S. S. Satire, continued 

Mr. Snygmph reasoned that that was why 
Bobby was always filthy. Besides, Bobby 
was, a nice boy. 

Meanwhile, Mike, the bastard, had in- 
creased his popularity, mainly because 
Mike ' a father had given him a brand new 
Trans Am. Mike's father thought that the 
car would keep Mike out of the house, so 
that he wouldn ' t have to think about 
the kind of bastard that Mike had become. 
Mike had several girlfriends because some 
girls like to ride in new Trans Ama no 
matter who happens to be driving them. 

One evening, Mike saw Bobby talk- 
ing to Becky in her front yard. He 
drove his brand new Trans Am to the 
curb and threw a raw egg that landed on 
Bobby's shoe. Becky yelled at Mike to 
stop. Mike call&d Becky a slut, then 
drove through her mother's garden. 
Later that night, Bobby slashed all 
four of Mike's tires. 

My, my, my, our three characters 
seem to be progressing nicely on their 
road to financial independence and emo- 
tional maturity. What will happen next? 

Graduation oame and went, and the 
years rolled by quickly, mainly because 
I do not have the patience to deal with 
them in detail right now. What can I 
say? It is my satire. 

Becky had some adjusting to do. 
Real life was just a little bit cold. No 
longer did everybody like everybody. No 
longer did everybody even know everybody. 
Becky began going to bars to find excite- 
ment. Men bought her drinks and asked 
her to dance. She liked to dance, and 
men liked to watch her dance. It was 
fun. The world was wonderful again. 

Bobby worked in the garage every day. 
Other than paying bills, drinking beer, and 
getting filthy, he had very little to occupy 
his spare time. He began playing a game 
where grown men pay money to run around in 
' the woods and shoot each other with small 
paint projectiles. The game was a little 
silly, but getting filthy was easy in the 
woods. All of the other guys liked Bobby, 
because he could get really filthy, and the"y 
liked getting filthy too. Bobby was the 
filthiest of them all! He was very happy. 

Mike was a supervisor in an ink manu- 
facturing plant. He hated ink, but he 
could get away with being a really big 
bastard, and even get paid for it. Mike 
loved to cpmplain about unimportant things. 
He was a bastard, but now he was a boss 
bastard. As bastards go, that is the very 
best kind to be. 

One night, Mike saw Becky and Bobby 
at a bar. They were having fun. Mike 
challenged Bobby to a game of pool. Some- 
where in the middle of the game, Mike 
accused Bobby of cheating. Becky yelled at 
Mike to stop. Mike swung his pool cue at 
Bobby, but missed, smashing poor little 
Becky's nose. Bobby pulled out a handgun 
and shot Mike in the shoulder. 

So here we have our same three filthy 
little characters . The problem, here, is 
that they are no longer children, at least 
physically. A sympathetic writer might 
stick them all in therapy, but it's Thursday 
morning and I'm in a foul mood. 

Just a little message to the kids. No- 
body is laughing. The game isn't cute 
any more. It never was! 


Judy Belfield 


Eerie stillness 

wrung from the gizzard 

of an old city 

comes through the slam of truck doors 

echoing against cement walls 

and the asphalt resounding 

of tires. 

The song of cicadas 

rises up from earth 

like weeds after rain 


to a rasping crescendo 

in the trees 

and then nothing but the stillness. 

An occasional leaf flutters 

now and then a fly bizzes 

or a walnut drops. 

The phone rings in an apartment 

across the street — 

who is the caller 

and what are his plans 

I wonder, 

as a single raindrop 

hits my big toe 

without a sound. 

Ruth Bosard 


My name is Pido and I have been living 
with the Jones family for about four years 
now. Figuring it out in dog years the old 
way, I would be twenty-eight. Now, modern 
science has found a new way to tell how old 
I am. They say I'm roughly thirty- three 
years old. I won't tell you if they are 
right or not. Why not keep them guessing 
because I don't see any scientists trying 
to make an indestructible bone with long- 
lasting flavor. 

It has been kind of hard trying to 
keep up with the Jones'. When I first 
moved in, I was very lonely. Well, wouldn't 
you be, if you were torn away from your 
six brothers and sisters. Those first 
six weeks were great. I had all the mi i> 
and companionship a puppy could want. My 
younger brother, Spot, and I would always 
wrestle together. My mom sometimes got 
mad at us and would grab us by the skin 

( continued ) 



It' a A Dog's Life, continued 

of our neck and drag us back to the box we 
called home. 

Soon, those happy days were over. I 
was literally torn from my mother's breast 
and into the cold hands of some stranger. 
It wasn't so bad because the female start- 
ed to scratch behind my ears. I soon 
learned that she was Susan Jones, the mo- 
ther of the two-year-old terror I found 
waiting for me in the back seat of the 
car. From the first moment I met Richie, 
he tried to make my stay a living hell. 

I could barely understand what the 
kid was saying. That made us even because 
he couldn't understand me. One thing I did 
know. He always managed to dig his fingers 
into my hair and skin when he tried to 
pet me. 

The older male driving the car was his 
dad, Mike. He didn't pay very much at- 
tention to me and his son's treatment of 
me. Susan, though, was my savior. She 
told Richie to be nice and put me on her 
lap. Prom that moment on, I decided that 
she was my best friend. 

I found that living with the Jones' 
wasn't so bad. I went through a period 
of adjustment. It consisted of getting 
smacked every time I took a leak on their 
floor. Imagine this, they wanted me to 
do it outside in the cold weather. Some 
days it was so darn cold I was afraid 
it'd freeze on me. In the utility room, 
they had the Sun Times laid out for me 
in case I didn't make it outside in 
time. Even when I used the newspaper, 
I got dirty looks. Boy, it's a no-win 
situation for a dog. 

Richie was the only real problem I 
encountered those first few years. Be- 
sides yanking our my fur, the little brat 
always seemed to step on my tail. Richie 
wore combat boots. It was terrible. I'd 
be dreaming of a big juicy steak a^d a 
jolt of pain would shoot through my tail. 

My hair grew back and Richie grew 
up and went to school. I was very happy 
to see the yellow school bus take the 
monster away. Initially I had four 
hours of no Richie, which grew to eight 
the next year. When he left, Susan would 
sometimes turn on the television and 
watch the soap operas with me cuddled 
on her lap. 

The yellow school bus was my enemy 
also. It brought Richie back. The kid 
never seemed to have any homework to 
do, and it left him plenty of time to 
torture me. One afternoon, he had that 
look in his eyes. I started to run to 
the kitchen where Susan would protect 
me, but Richie got a hold of my right 
back leg. I tried to yell for her, r. 
and all that came out was barking. I 
doubted that she could have heard me 
anyway over the blender. He grabbed me 
in his punishing grip and took me up to 
his bedroom. There he proceeded to put 
Army clothes on me. Every time he 

loosened his hold, I'd tried to run, but 
there was no escaping. Richie's door was 
shut and his room was cluttered with toys 
which made it hard to outmaneuver him. He 
picked up his gun and pointed it at me while 
he made bang, bang noises. I soon realized 
he liked it when I ran around the room 
like a target. So I laid down on the floor. 
He nudged me a few times with his foot 
until he got frustrated and literally threw 
me out the door. 

My bruises healed, but the hate still 
remained. I finally found a way to scare 
Richie. I'd growl at him and did he ever 
back off. The first time I did it, he went 
and told Susan. She told him it served him 
right for teasing the dog. It worked a few 
times until he thought I was all bark and 
no bite, and came at me with his water— gun. 
So I bit him. The kid went crying into the 
house. I don't know why. It's not like I 
drew blood. I got a spanking from his dad 
but it made Richie stop. 

Mike wasn't all that bad. He was just 
moody. Once in awhile, he'd play fetch 
with me in the back yard. When he didn't 
want to play, he'd tell Susan to hide the 
ball. I knew what ball meant, so I wouldn't 
let them have it. Then they started to call 
it the blue round thing. I wonder what they 
are going to name it next. 

My fun really started when Susan began 
a diet. I guess she felt she was still 
overweight aftergiving birth to that bugger, 
Richie. I thought her body was fine the way 
it was. She had a nice big lap to sit on. 
Something good, though, came out of it. 
She would put me on a leash. A thing I hated 
with a passion, but now I realized it was 
the only way I could go running alongside 
of her. We ran into some difficulties 
in the beginning. I wanted to visit a 
few pine and oak trees, and Susan wanted 
to keep running. She won the clash of 
wills every time with a swift yank of the 
leash. We started out only going a short 
way, and by the end of the month, we were 
going three times the distance. 

Susan got crabby. Sometimes when we 
were alone, she would let out a big scream 
and go running towards the refrigerator. I 
would stand under her and try to snag 
any food that fell as she rummaged around in 
it. She was in a daze and wasn't paying 
attention to me. I thought she'd be happy 
after consuming two pieces of chocolate 
cake and a bag of potato chips. I would 
be. It just seemed to darken her mood 
more afterwards. 

I don't think Mike helped her depression 
any. He was always missing those great 
dinners she made by working late at the 
office. I knew they were great because 
I would be waiting under the table for 
messy Richie to drop a morsel or two. At 
times, Mike would even stay up late working 
on projects. I heard Susan complain that 
his work lately has meant more than she 

v continued ) 


It's A Dog' 3 Life, continued 

He noticed that she loat a bunch of my face. The next time, I tried scratching 
weight and tried to get frisky with her, but on the door and got put out in the cold. 
Susan went off and pouted. I followed at One day, I was looking for the blue 
her heels to try to get a good back rub out round thing, and finally found it under 
of the deal. She gave the best ones because Susan's bed. It was so nice and comfort- 

she had naisl which could scratch little 
critters. Not that I had fleas. The 
Jones saw to it that I received a weekly 
bath. Susan would fill up the bath tub 
with warm water and try to coax me in 
the room with a buscuit. I fell for it 
every time. When I was in the bathroom 
and realized what was going on, I made 
a break for it. They always caught me, 
like I knew they would, but I have some 
pride. The day I willingly submit to 
humans for a bath is the day Lassie 
doesn't come home. 

There were times when I was sicker 
than a dog. The worst time was when I 
managed to sna^ a whole package of Oreo 
cookies. They tasted great going down, 
but for some reason I couldn't sit still. 
I was running all over the house and a 
churning sensation began in my stomach and 
all of a sudden I lost my cookies all 
over the rug. I got more than the usual 
punishment this time. If they had a 
dog house, I would have surely been in 
it. Mike gave ma a few choice words af- 
ter viewing the mess on the living room 
rug and whacked me more than once. 

Susan and I got into a routine. 
After Mike and the brat left, we'd go 
run three miles. She then would take a 
shower, watch her soaps, and clean the 
house. Occasionally, she would go out 
shopping or do whatever women do. One 
day, she did something not on the routine. 
Susan had a man over for lunch. She called 
him Paul and when she talked to him , it 
was with a dazed look. 

What really confused me was they both 
didn't finish the steak dinner. Susan 
never made that kind of dinner in "the 
middle of the day. It seemed such a 
waste to go to all that effort and not 
eat it. So I did. 

After they left the table, they 
both went into the bedroom and closed the 
door. I didn't even bother with them 
because I was more interested in the 
food. Half an hour later, they came out 
and Susan's hair was all messed up, and 
Paul was tucking in his shirt. The only 
logical explanation I eould come up with 
was that they were wrestling. I wondered 
who won. 

It seemed Susan was developing a 
new routine. Every day at lunch time, 
Paul showed up. After the first few days, 
they didn't bother with lunch anymore and 
wnet straight into the bedroom to wrestle. 
I figured they didn' t want to do it on 
a full stomach. Without the temptation 
of food, I was left with some time on my 
paws. First, I tried to follow them into 
the bedroom to see who won these matches. 
I got a nudge with a foot and a door in 

able under there that I fell asleep. A door 
closed and voices roused me awake. It was 
Susan and Paul. I thought I was very lucky. 
I'd get to see the wrestling matches. I 
heard them lay down in the bed and there 
was some rustling of clothes and giggling. 
Then the bed started to move so, and it 
sounded like they were having fun. I wanted 
to play too. I got out from underneath the 
bed and jumped on top of them. They weren' t 
wrestling. They were mating! I don't know 
who was more shocked — me or them. Paul 
cursed and pushed me off the bed, and Susan 
just laughed. 

They say curiosity killed the cat. Well, 
it almost got me into doggy heaven. Paul 
was so mad, he threw me out the door. Susan 
got mad at him. I heard their muffled argu- 
ments and finally they both started to 
laugh. I don't know why. I found nothing 

Susan later put me on her lap while 
she watched General Hospital and gave me 
a nice scratching. How could I stay mad 
at her. She was my best friend. 

A month after that embarassing inci- 
dent, I heard Mike and her were arguing 
in their bedroom. I couldn't get upstairs 
and listen outside the door because they 
had a baby fence blocking the entrance. 
They got new carpeting the previous week, 
and didn' t want the dog to mess it up. 
They should have built a higher fence to 
keep messy Richie out too. Why exclude 

Their raised voices lasted for an hour, 
until I heard some banging around in the 
drawers. Mike came down the stairs and sat 
in the living room. Fifteen minutes later, 
Susan came down with two suitcases in her 
hands. A cold dread came into me and I knew 
if I didn't speak now, I'd never see Susan 
again. I wanted to yell, "Wait, take me 
with you!" All that came out was that 
darn barking again. Susan petted me on the 
head and walked out the door. 

Nowadays, Mike is home right when the 
brat gets off the school bus. They have 
dinner and watch some television afterwards. 
I get a lot of attention from him. We play 
fetch more often and it '3 his lap I sit on 
now. One time, he literally cried on my 
shoulder while we were watching television. 
He is always talking to me, I guess, but 
even when I'm not in the room, he keeps 
talking. My position in the Jones' house- 
hold has changed since I moved in. Now, 
I'm man's best friend. 

n » > x « n 

J. Raskowski entering the world of welfare, our Alice, 

much like the storybook Alive, found her- 
self falling, falling, deeper and deeper into 
the "black hole" of government officialism, 
and growing smaller and smaller. 
And adored the complex, spidery movements Shutting the sunlight out behind her 
Of the yellow and green and blue attractions— and *°ving into the darkened chamber, 
Each a religion, with lines of followers, Alice hesitated for a moment for her eyes 
High-G spins and turns, to adjust. A sudden chill overtook her. 

And death-defying dogmas. she remembered her visit of yesterday when 

she languished for over three hours, only 
to become so ill she left without present- 
ing the form they had given her and obtain- 
ing an appointment time. 
"It shouldn't be so bad today," 
So I took a ride on the solid English Rotor, she assured herself. "My paper is filled 
Thinking it more stable than the ups and downs out » and if I deliver it in person, 
Of the roller coaster life, surely they can send me the 'appointment 

Or the pompous merry-go-round existence. letter . 
The floor snuck away, and I can't recall still, Through the second set of doors 


I went to the carnival as a youth 

And the attendants smiled, 

Dressed in red-and-white striped shirts 

And blue bow ties, saying: 

"Watch your step," and "Hold on tight to the rails," 

And "Buckle in for your own safety." 

If if really ever rose again. 


Judy Belfield 


Trees cast the same somber shadows 

under still sunlight — 

as years and years ago 

in another place. 

Connected to now 

by similarity alone 

grey shapes spread 

over dry earth, 

silent air sucks eddies 

of mote-flecks 

along shafts of brightness. 

Death, too , 

has this simple identity 

with yesterday: 

in a single moment 

I tear through a pin-striped suit 

like a bullet 

to some other June 

with the same killing humidity 

under the same still sunlight 

and wonder who I am 

as I smash into emptiness. 


Sandra Kacmarcik 


At the "Public Aid" sign, Alice 
turned off the divided thoroughfare onto 
a dusty, graveled road that looked more 
like an exploded minefield than an invita- 
tion to aid. She maneuvered around the 
car-eating potholes and parked in front of 
a long, barracks-like building. Upon 

and into the grotesque world of public 
aid Alice stepped. The smell of dirty ash- 
trays and rotting cigarettes, combined with 
the sweaty stench of too many people and 
too little ventilation, nauseated her. She 
looked neither right nor left, for she re- 
membered the browning pea-soup walls and the 
splintery wooden tables of various heights 
and shapes, obviously salvaged from another 
era, circled by wooden folding chairs of 
the same vintage. 

She walked ahead, down the wide aisle; 
rows and rows of occupied folding chairs 
faced her from both 3ides. She approached 
the long counter which, like a moat, separate. 
the suppliants from the "civil servants," 
who— drowning in a cesspool of rules and 
regulations — had become mindless robots, 
"serving" only the system. 

Cloaking her courage around her, Alice 
smiled and said, "Hello. May I . . ." 

"Take a number, take a seat, and wait 
your turn," came the curt reply. 

"But, but," Alice stammered, looking up 
at the spike piercing the infamous number 

"I said, 'Take a number, take a seat, 
and wait your turn,'" the stern voice 

This was not the Alice of old, the one 
who only a few short years ago had her own 
private office and staff. The loss of her 
husband, her job, her savings, and nearly 
her life, bad made her impotent. Alice 
quietly took a seat among the ranks of the 
somber nameless who sat rigidly posed on 
the designated slats, clutching number cards 
to their chests. 

As she waited, Alice's mind began to 
wander. She should not be here at all. She 
did not want public aid. She knew she de- 
served disability payments: she had worked 
nearly her entire adult life! Nevertheless, 
after waiting six months for a reply, she 
had been rejected. 

( continued ) 

The Robot Room, continued 

Aliee's last conversation with the Social screech-owl "Heh! Heh! Heh!" She 
Security Office painfully flashed through 
her mind. "If you \/ish to contest the re- 
jection, you may appeal," the clerk had 
atated. "Of course, the appeal will take 
at least six months. Then, IF granted a 
hearing, you will appear before a judge 
in Chicago, and you MUST be represented 
by a lawyer." 

Although Alice recalled being totally 
demoralized at that point, the clerk ob- 
viously did not notice and continued her 
canned speech. "IF the judge rules in your 
favor, do not expect a check for at least 
an additional ninety days. It takes 
three to four months to process the 
papers and get you on the computer." 

"How can they be so insensitive?" 
Alice wondered. The very thought of at- 
tending a hearing in Chicago overwhelmed 
her. How would she get there? It was 
difficult enough just going to local 
agencies! Where would she get the money 
for a lawyer? Her medical bills had 
destituted her. And worst of all, it 
would be at least nine more months be- 
fore she would receive any money, IF . . 
. IF she won. It was more than she could 
bear, and she did not want to think any 

The minutes ticked by. "Why are they 
taking so long to call my number?" Alice 
cried to herself. Automatically, she 
reached up and patted her brown ringlets. 
This little gesture had now become a ri- 
tual. "Yes, they are there," she reassured 

Once again, depressing thoughts crept 
into her mind. Alice knew she still pre- 
sented a pleasing picture, but it was all 
a facade. A very important part of her 
femininity had been sacrificed to the sur- 
geon's knife, and no one seemed to under- 
stand how she felt, especially her doctors, sake of the 'system.'" 

But then, how could they possibly under- Alice could stand it no longer. The 
stand? How could any man really understand? effects of her cheap were now overwhelming. 

Alice jolted herself back to the pre- She rushed to the counter. "I simply 
sent. "It is this room, this God-awful want to leave this form," she blurted 

out before the "robot" could stop her. 
"I am sorry, Madam, it is against 
regulations to take you out of turn." 

"But I am sick, can't you see? All 
I want to do is LEAVE this form, and you 
can mail the appointment letter to me," 
Alice replied through clenched teeth. 

and her bag were having a marvelous time. 

As the door opened to the narrow hall 
containing the gray metal cattle stalls used 
for appointments, Mary called to each social 
worker by name, each time letting out another 
shrill, "Heh! Heh! Heh!" Amazingly, there 
was a hum of activity behind the "moat." 
The next name called was Mary's, and she was 
immediately ushered in. 

Once again, the room projected an eerie 
hush, and there was very little motion. It 

was strange, Alice thought, that the other 
applicants did not really seem to be aware 
of Mary and the disruption ahe caused. 

Then, Alice took a long careful look 
at the people who surrounded her. The few 
young men who were there with their families 
sat on the edges of their seats, knees pro- 
truding, leaning over with their forearms 
resting on their thighs, hands clasped, 
and heads dropping from their shoulders in 
a hang-dog fashion. For the most part, 
though, it was mothers and children who 
filled the rows. 

Next, Alice turned her attention to the 
hostile room. It offered no toys, no books, 
no TV to help the children pass the mono- 
tonous hours— not even a little piece of 
carpet for them to sit on, only the hard, 
dirty, cracked tile. 

At that moment, a deep anxiety began to 
creep into her body. Alice looked again 
even more closely — young, old, mother and 
child— all had something disconcerting 

about them. While they were looking straight 
ahead, there was a dull blank stare in their 

eyes. They were seeing nothing (or 
possibly they had seen too much, even these 
little ones). Then she realized, "It is 
not only the employees who are robots. 
This is a robot factory with everyone in 
here playing her designated role for the 

depressing room that is doing this to me. 
Why can't those numbers move faster?" She 
was beginning to feel a wave of illness. 
Maybe it would subside, Alice hoped. 

Suddenly, life burst upon the scene 
in the form of Mary. Mary was a middle- 
aged woman of slim build, dressed in white 

tennis shoes, clean blue jeans, and a short- 
sleeved plaid 3hirt. With that, all simi- 
larity to conformity ended. Cheap dime- 
store rings bedecked her every finger, 
bracelets encircled both arms to the 
elbows, and row upon row of beads dangled 
about her neck. ' Not only did she carry 
a huge straw purse and a brown paper bag; 
she also carried on conversations with 
her huge purse and paper bag. You could 
see bodies stiffen as she walked from 
person to person, but no one looked at 
her as she cackled, "Bum a cigarette? 
Bum a cigarette?" Periodically, she 
opened her bag, ceremoniously looked in- 
side, and let out a most insidious 

"I am sorry, Madam, I cannot accept 
your form out of turn, either. However, 

since you appear ill, I am authorized 
to give you this addressed envelope." She 
continued in the same monotone, "Place your 
form in the envelope and mail it to me. I 
will then mail an appointment letter to you." 

Alice asked in complete amazement, 
"Can't you just place my paper on the cor- 
ner of your desk and when my number comes 
up ... " 

"I am not authorized to do that," 
the "robot" parroted. "The post office 
is two blocks south." 

With envelope in one hand and form in 
the other, Alice ran down the aisle, folding 

( continued ) 



The Robot Room, continued 

chairs with alligator mouths snapping 
at her heels, the building closing in on 
her, trying to strangle her! Out the door 
she ran, into the sunlight, into the 
fresh air; and she was whole again — full 

"I will not become a robot," she 
repeated. Alice then drove the two 
blocks to the post office, neatly folded 

her form, placed it in the envelope, and 
dropped it into the slot of the drive-up 
box for the postman to deliver in the mor- 
ning to the very office she had just left. 
Alice turned back in her seat . . . her 
eyes glazed over . . . she looked straight 
ahead . . . seeing nothing. 


Doug Paul 

Madonna Clarke 



Call a friend 

Call a cop 

You will find him at the donut shop 

A vigilante fighting crime and decadence 

with chocolate— covered evidence 

Help the people 

Save the world 

With your pistol handy, flag unfurled 

A patriotic man would shout and scream 

At what lies behind your smokescreen 

See the pigs 

See the pen 

City hall is full of them 

A judicial swine will set your sights 

But just make sure the price is right 


Judy Belfield 


I slip into platinum curls 

slide through white gleam 

silver screen silken hair 

and down through ivory satin 

gown soft smooth 

folds so slick 

my skin whistles a windbreath 

lullabye goodnight 

against black black thick 

velvet wraparound cape 

as close aa perfume 

to' pulse points 

I am a kitten body with 

tiny bones as easy to crush 

aa onionskin paper 

I glide quietly — 

a raindrop on a gardenia petal. 


A lanky silhouette 

In the sunset dust 

A palomino spotted and strong 

Pace forward, looks forlorn 

Quiet rhythmic tones 

As they trot along the trail 

Left behind a broken heart 

With a girl in the saloon 

A shot in the back 

Stings from Cupid's arrow 

Plans he had for two 

Are now broken clear 

Screams of shattering glass 

As it splinters his heart 

Never looking back 

Off alone in the night 

The Lone Rider is again 

Searching for his freedom 

And a place to cry 

Dreams of two people 

Crushed down to one 

A tear-streaked face 

Comfort from a horse 

Looking for a world 

Made for all the Lone. Riders. 


Mary Dilworth 


What happens to a dream deferred? 

Does it dry up 

like a raisin in the sun? 

Maybe it just sags 

like a heavy load. 


Langston Hughes 

Camile sat on the side of the mattress 
holding the sleeping baby in her arms. 
1:00 AM already. She thought, only five 
more hours to day light. She looked dowr 
at the baby who had begun to draw slower 
even breaths. Carefully she pulled the 
nipple of the bottle out of his mouth, the 
pale yellow mixture drooled slowly down his 
mouth. Immediately he began to make auick 
sucking motions before falling back into 
the deep even breathing. 

She laid the child down along side 
the small packing crate that rested on the 
unmade bed. she got up and went over to 

, continued ) 

Daybreak, continued 

a small section of the room which served 
as her kitchen. She opened the first cabi- 
net over the apartment-sized stove. She 
took down the box of tea and pulled out 
the last bag, which was stuck to the inside 
flap. Quietly, Camile ran water into the 
bright blue ceramic tea pot which had sat 
ready on the stove. She looked down at 
the bubbly, running water in the pot and 
began to think. Think. She thought long 
and hard. 

This was usually the time she ' d be 
up anyway, heating up supper, putting on 
the tea, but not tonight. Tonight, she 
didn't really have to. He'd have been 
late, and by this time, she'd be stand- 
ing at the side window that faced the court 
yard trying to see if she could see him the 
moment he'd enter the circle three stories 
below. Camile closed her eyes and thought 
harder. It was almost like he'd be there 
any minute, or that he was already in the 
bathroom running water in the sink, making 
man sounds and doing whatever men do in 
the bathroom with the door closed and the 
water running. Not tonight. 

She put the pot on the stove and turn- 
ed the gas on, not bothering to check the 
flame to see if it was too high. It was, 
and the yellow flames quickly began to en- 
7elop the sddes of the wet pot, causing 
it to sizzle and crackle. Camile went 
over to the sofa and sat down on the edge 
of the cushion. She could see the bed 
that the baby lay on, but her view of the 
child was obscured by the box. 

Slowly, she leaned back against the 
cushion, then let out a low sigh. Day- 
light soon. The stillness of the room, 
aside from the bubbling tea pot was 
comforting her. Her mind began to drift 
backwards and she started picking at the 
plastic strap on her wrist. She should 
have known, even then, before the baby 
came, and even after, the signs were 
there. What was it he had told her 
last night? Was it only last night, or 
was it a week ago that he'd been gone? 
She didn't know anymore. The days and 
nights were beginning to run together 

He'd said he wanted to be free. 
Said he, "Couldn't hang." She stared 
at the taa pot which was now boiling fur- 
iously on the stove. It seemed that it 
was not too long ago, a year or two, that 
she'd met him. He was sitting in the stu- 
dent lounge at one of the small tables 
win his books scattered all around. He 
was lost in those books, not even no- 
ticing her when she ' d made some excuse 
to sit at his table. Even after that, 
it'd been weeks before he even began to 
talk to her about things other than hi3 
college work. He had dreams, he told her. 
Big plans for his future. She had plans 
too, for him. 

It was a little hard to know exact- 
ly when she'd stopped simply loving him 
and began needing him. It must have 
come about slowly, like black flood wa- 
ters in a basement, then began to rise 

higher and higher until everything it touched 
slowly began to be no more. 

What did it matter? He was gone. 

Camile got up off the sofa and crossed 
over to the bed. where the baby lay. Although 
the steam heater had shut itself off for the 
night, she had not wrapped him when she'd 
laid him down. His chubby baby legs were 
on top of the old spread. She reached down 
to turn him around for another long look at 
him, but she couldn't bring herself to 
disturb his stillness. She bent down over 
bini and pressed her face against his soft, 
full cheek. The worry came back. That old 
familiar vague worry. The knowledge that 
something wasn't okay, not quite right. 

The dry popping sound in the kitchen 
brought her back to where she was. Straight- 
ening up, she pushed over to the stove 
where the ceramic tea pot was now cooking 
over the flames, the water long since boiled 
away. Camile turned the stove off and moved 
the tea pot to another eye on the stove. 
She'd have to wait for the pot to cool down 
before she could run more water into it. 
She sat down at the table in the small kit- 
chen area. The small Big Ben clock on the 
table said 3:30 a.m. Time was passing. She 
glanced at the plastic strap on her left 
wrist. They had only let her go because 
her five days were up and they couldn 1 t 
legally keep her, not if it was against her 
will. He had been with her then. Had 
brought her home and made her comfortable. 
He had bathed her, fed her and taken care 
of her the way he used to do. How could she 
know that someday her need for him would be 
so great that it would smother the love and 
affection that he held for her and drive 
him away? Was it just that simple? Why 
didn' t he know that he was her dream and 
all that she'd ever need? She asked herself, 
getting up from the table and walking over 
toward the aide window that looked down onto 
the court yard. 

She had taken most of the Meprobamate 
that the doctor had given her right after the 
baby came. He had come home that night a n d 
found her in the bath tub . He had thought 
that it was just another way of trying to hang 
on to him, to keep him from leaving her. It 
had worked, for awhile. But, one night, he 
just simply told her. 

"I'll be gone in the morning," he'd 
simply said. Then she'd be alone. A n d now he 
was gone. Camile turned away from the window, 
glanced at the clock on the kitchen table 
and walked over to the bed where the baby 
lay still. It was U:30 a.m. She took the 
baby in her arms and moved toward the crate. 
Somewhere, in one of his many books, she'd 
read about dreams deferred. The baby's head 
began to dangle loosely as she held the child 
up to her bosom. His akin was cold to the 
touch now. There was no breath, no life. 

Sara Johnson stood in her living room 
window wearing her pink J. C. Penney warm-up 
3uit. She was having second anrj third 
thoughts about rising at the crack of dawn 
just to do a few exercises to lose 3ome flab 
that no one noticed she was losing anyway. 
Her window faced the court yard. Not a bad 



Daybreak, continued 

view, really, because a person could see had been awhile back, and anyway ahe didn't 
everybody who entered or left the building. look pregnant and better still, she thought 
No one's coinings or goings could be a secret.- with some amusement what man would want 

She'd just seen Crazy Camile just before 
daybreak going down the courtway with a 
small crate or box or something under her 
arm. She was a strange one. Someone had 
told her that she was pregnant, but that 

to screw Crazy Camile? Sara decided to skip 
the exercising and went back to the warm bed 
she'd been so reluctant to get out of. 

Doug Paul 

Judy Belfield 



In your fragmented network 

Looking at your childhood 

Via satellite 

Thinking of the pasture's precious 

In a domain of chicken wire 

and cardboard 

Political pigs now cage you in 
Innocence lost 

Sometimes wallowing in memories 
Until the mud blinds you 

In my cushion of failure 
Living in my childhood 
Hard facts 
Hoping to retrieve 
Txeehouse skies 


J. Raskowski 


childhood Evil 

followed me around for years 

like some scaly dragon. 

i thought i outran it for 

Godd, And was 

beyond it, 

but it had simply crawled up into me 

and called itself, 

of all things, 



Ron Jackson 



Such an overworked word 

Has never existed. 

It means so much 

Yet so little. 

"I love you." 

"I love my dog." 

"I love that pink paint." 

"I love my new album." 

Doesn' t anybody like anymore? 



You and I in monkeyface 

see no, hear no 

arms stretching 

we hang down 

a branch bending gently 

we sway 

lips puckered in "ooh" 

the screech and squawk 

of jungle birds 

hear no 

leaves slick and colored green 

see no 

monkeyface me 

I remember the exact sound 

of Cary Grant saying "monkeyface" 

in what movie 

at what hour 

of some long summer night 

stuffed with films 

monkeyface you 

remember all the 

jungle dreams 

we shared one January 

whose nose was punched 

bloody by frost 

see no, hear no 

the last last sense 

like a snake charmed 

out of a basket 

woven of reason 

you, me, monkeyface 


Steve Siedler 


was predesigned, 
To be so refined 
That mortal men would stop 

and stare. 

A callous man 
With a carnal plan 
Smashed her facade 

with a free-flowing flare. 
One swift, sweet simulation 

brought stimulation 

for a lust that betrayed. 
Now he's smiling brightly. 
And speaking politely. 
And she and the kid 

are on Public Aid. 


Steve Black 


I met her in a bar, 

In a Holiday Inn on a Wednesday night, 
Somewhere on the roat- 
She was "beautiful once, 
And looked as if she had been kept- 
Sitting on a 3tool with her legs tightly 

She fumbled with her lighter- 
Nervously puffing one after another, 
She emptied the pack in two hours- 

I was sitting the next stool over, 
Too inhibited by her wardrobe, and age- 
Sneaking glances- 
She suddenly swivelled around, 
And asked if I liked the band- 

They went out on the floor- 

They danced, then talked, 
I sat, watched the TV- 
They laughed— 
With a gleam in his eye, 
He winked over at me- 

He went to the restroom, 
She said she'd wait- 
She swivelled arouhd again, 
And grabbed my hand- 
She said she was going to sneak out, 
While he was in the john- 
She felt obliged to tell me, 
As if I needed to know- 

She started telling me her story- 
Husband had left, forced to work, 
In a correctional rehabilitation center- 
It was the only work in town- 

I bought her some highballs, 
Sipped on a few beers- 
She told me how patients dinged to her, 
Pulling, scratching, gurgling- 

I could see the nightmare, 
In her eyes- 
She told me her terror, 
In a bar in a Holiday Tnn- 

A local hero came up, 
Asked her to dance with him- 
I didn't care, none of my to-do- 
She said, "Excuse me" , 

She thanked me for the drinks, 
And for showing my concern- 
Grabbing her purse, she looked around, 
Then darted out the door- 

I finished my glass, 
Got up to leave- 
Stopped for relief on the way out, 
He was there, primping for the mirror- 

"Hey there, what do you think 
Of the action in our town"- 
I shrugged, then said, 
"Looks good to me"- 

"Well, we manage 
A good time now and then"- 
With a wink, and a smirk, 
He sauntered out the door- 

Joel Stapanek 


Randals took his pitcher of beer to 
the table. The bar wasn't very full that 
night. The band had just finished a set 
and were taking yet another break. He 
set down the newspaper that was under his 
arm. It folded open reavealing the head- 
line of a small article at the bottom of 
the page. It read: "Suspected Killer 
Pound Dead" . He poured the beer into 
the mug and took a sip. He had been 
there an hour and didn't know if his 
friend was going to show. He began to 
think he had wasted another night. He 
looked around. The average Thursday night 
bar crowd. Just as he picked up his beer 
he noticed a man in a long, dark overcoat 
come out of the men's restroom. Randals 
didn't see the man come in, but let it 
pass since he was nervous enough. The 
man glanced through the people in the 
bar. Their eyes made contact. They 

I walked into the lobby, 
Five or ten later- 
He was sitting on a bench, 
Puzzlement in his eye- 

"You didn't see her leave, did you"- 
Lying, I said "No"- 
He shrugged, went back to the bar, 
I walked into the dark- 

Across the parking lots, 
To the fleabag where I stayed- 
I got in bed and went to sleep, 
Drove on the next day- 

Sometimes I still wonder, 

What she saw in me- 

She shared with me her soul that night. 

In a bar in a Holiday Inn- 

smiled. It had been a long time since they 
last aaw each other. The man quickly moved 
to Randals and sat down. 

"Dammit, Randals. It must have been 
twenty years," said the man, accepting the 
beer Randals offered him. 

( continued ) 


The Bar, continued 

"You always were a hard guy to get a 
hold of, Shaw," stated Randals smiling. 
"But you always came when someone said 

"The last time I saw you we got kicked 
out of that bar because you told the band 
they played for shit." 

"When a band plays shit, I tell them 
they play shit." 

They finished their beers and Randals 
poured them more. The band was getting 
ready for another set. 

"Let's move to a booth," Randals said 
as the band began to play. Randals left 
the newspaper at the bar. 

Shaw sat down while Randals went to the 
bar and got another pitcher. Shaw watched 
Randals and remembered the times they 
had together. 

They weren't great friends but good 
ones. Shaw always knew where he stood 
with Randals. Randals was easy to talk 
to and would always listen. 

Randals came back with a pitcher of 
beer, sat down, and poured them another 

"So, Randals, how are the wife and 
kids?" asked Shaw. 

"That's an awfully standard question, 
Shaw," stated Ran rials. "Linda is fine 
although she complains about my late 
hours. I remind her it's part of the job 
but she doesn't care. She wants me home 
and spend more time with the kids. So 
how's life with you, Shaw?" 

"Well, my back hurts a bit. I went 
to the doctor and he said he can't find 
anything wrong with it. Still hurts 
though. I think I hurt it trying to 
move the stove," Shaw said laughing to 
himself. "Karen always told me to lift 
with my legs and not my back." Shaw 
stopped laughing and became quiet, look- 
ing into his beer. Randals was drawing 
shapes on the table with the condensation 
from his mug. 

"God, I miss her," whispered Shaw. 

"We all miss her," said Randals. 
Even though the mugs weren't empty, 
Randals filled them. He set the pit- 
cher down softly. Shaw no longer heard 
the sounds of the bar. To him, he was 
the only one there. 

For a few minutes, Randals said 
nothing. He finally broke the silence. 

"Where are your kids staying?" he 

"With their aunt," Shaw said not 
looking up. 

"You don't look like you've gotten 
much sleep. If you like, we can go back 
to my house and you can catch up on your 
sleep. We've got an extra bed and I'm 
sure Linda won ' t . . . " 

"Would you just stop! Just stop it," 
yelled Shaw. He was breaking down. "We 
both know why I haven't had any sleep." 

"No. I don't. Why haven't you?" 
asked Randals. 

"You too, huh? You were the last 
person I expected this treatment from. 

Can't you see it my way?" 

"I can. That's why I'm here," stated 
Randals as Shaw downed his beer. Randals 
emptied his mug and poured them more. 

"It's just not fair, Randals. She was 
doing so well. We just got the kids settled 
in school and her job was taking off," 
Shaw said quickly. "We had so much going 
for us." 

"Yes. You did," said Randals. "But 
does that justify murder?" 

"Yes! Yes it does!" yelled Shaw. "You 
didn't see her. You didn't have to come home 
with the kids and see her lying on the floor 
broken and bloody! The kids screamed and 
ran out. I couldn't do anything but lean 
over her and ask, 'Why?', Randals, if you 
only saw her ..." 

Shaw began to cry. Randals said nothing. 

When Shaw stopped, Randals again broke 
the silence. 

"How did you find him?" said Randals. 
When Shaw replied, he was distant. He was 
no longer emotional. He spoke as if he. were 
stating the plot line of an old novel he had 
read long ago and was being tested on now. 

"After the funeral, I sent the kids to 
Karen's sister's. I knew who had killed her. 
It waa the man that cleaned our pool. He 
waa an evil- looking bastard with a crazy 
look in his eyes. I wanted to get rid of 
hjtii right away, but Karen said that I was 
imagining things. She said no one else 
would come that far out to clean a pool and 
she wasn't going to have me spending all my 
Saturdays cleaning it. 

"For three weeks he came. I got home 
early one day and caught him looking in the 
window at Karen. I was so mad that he was 
lucky I only fired him. I knew I should 
have killed him then. 

"A week later I came home after picking 
up the kids from practice and found her lying 
there in the hallway." When he said this, 
Shaw stared off into space. Randals brought 
him back. 

"How did you know who killed her?" asked 

"I knew," said Shaw. "The police said it 
was a burglar because a few of our things 
were missing. But I knew it was him. 

"So I followed him for two days and 
finally waited for him outside a bar he goes 
to. I waited three nights until he was alone 
when he came out of the bar. He was drunk. 
He staggered to his car. While he was try- 
ing to open the lock, I shot him in the back 
of the head. I only wish he knew who killed 
him. No-one was outside and the band inside 
was so loud no-one heard the gun. I got back 
in my car and left." 

They sat for a few minutes drinking, 
not talking. 

Randals got up from the table and went 
to the phone. Shaw's face was blank. He 
didn't notice Randals leave. Randals dialed 
the phone. Se waited a few seconds and spoke 
into the phone. 

"Yes . . . yes, a full confession. Lis- 
ten, could you send someone else down. I 
can't make the arrest . . . you know why not . 

( continued x 


The Bar, continued 

. . . OK . ." With that he hung up. He 
looked back at Shaw. Shaw's face was still 

"God, I hate my job," said Randals and he 
left the bar with Shaw sitting in the booth. 
Shaw was still sitting in the booth when 
the squad car came. 

< i i n » n 

Judy Belfield 

Paulette Georgantas 


Say me the sweet 

at the core of your 

baked apple softness — 

butter oozing in 

a cinnamonned heart, 

singing the fizz 

of sugar spitting 

a brown syrup 

at the oven door. 

My mouth waters 

waiting out the cooking time 

unendurably lengthened 

by scents 


Judy Belfield 


I would have 

a six-o-clock sky 

deep in October 

turning purple 

and shivering like babies' lips 

in a sudden cold. 

I would sit with knitted socks 

propped on a tufted stool 

and look at the day 

through a large window 

keeping safe 

from winter's first augurs: 

faint chills in the air 

as 30ft as cat's breath 

faint chills that 

begin like age on a face — 

a line or two at first 

until finally 

a change into someone else 

not wise, only old. 

I would sit 

by my large window 

as the purple sky deepened 

and my memories flashed 

as darkly as too-sad music 

and I would weep 


Acquainted with knees 

Legs and shoes 

Slap-going, slap-going. 

Frantic frenzied hands 

Blur past my face 

Or hang limply beside her hips. 

A world of half visions 

In the summer of that year when he left her. 

Pitted chrome legged table 

Red rimmed 

Rough unfinished undersurface 

Brown smudges of dried crusted food 

Wobbled chairs pulled close. 


Where giants could not tread 

In the summer of that year when he left her. 

Cracked bleeding toilet 

Yellow flake limed 

Sweet sour acrid cloying 


Into the rusted dented coffee can. 

Growling sucking swallowing 

Voracious monster 

In the summer of that year when he left her. 

Mountain of stairs 

Climbing up, climbing up 

To the bed that spoke in rasping whispers. 

Gasping grasping air 

Choke and moan 

In the wall of her room. 

Alone, alone 

In the summer of that year when he left her. 

River banking the hill yard 

Sliding slipping gliding 

Gray mudded mystery 

Aflame in oil 

Leaping scorching searing 

Trees grass sand 

A blaze in her eyes. 

The world burning down 

In the summer of that year when he left her. 




Sandra Kacmarcik 

J. Raskowski 



Pat and Maggie were casual friends. 
At one time their husbands had worked at 
the same mill. They had attended company 
picnics and retirement parties together, 
and they had car pooled their daughters 
to dance lessons for a few years when the 
children were small. Everyone knew that 
Maggie and Ralph's marriage was not a 
happy one, but no one knew why. Maggie 
was a quiet, passive person and not in- 
clined to share her problems. 

Years passed and the local mill , 
closed. Pat's husband was trans-fe^e-4 
to a plant in Chicago; and Maggie's hus- 
band was sent to Gary, Indiana. Pat's 
husband commuted to Chicago; but Mag- 
gie's family moved to a suburb in eastern 
Illinois, to be closer to the Gary mill. 
Occasionally, the women would see each 
other at the shopping mall located half- 
way between their two homes. Whenever they 
met, they stopped for coffee and dessert. 

This was just such an occasion. They 
had not seen one another for ages. Maggie 
was always too thin and pale, but Pat 
thought Maggie looked especially tired 
and unhappy. Maggie did not talk much 
at first, but as they relaxed over a 
second cup of coffee, Maggie quite 
calmly said, "My husband had an affair." 

Pat was so startled, she hardly knew 
what to reply. She finally untied her 
tongue and asked, "When did this happen?" 

"It was before I met you. Nearly 
twenty years ago." 

"Nearly twenty years ago?" Pat re- 
peated in amazement. "That's an aw- 
fully long time ago. What did you 
say to Ralph?" 


"Nothing?" Pat knew she was be- 
ginning to sound like a parrot. 

•I told him I didn't want to hear 
anything about it . . . and never to 
mention it again. What else could I 
do? I had small children." 

"And neither of you have ever men- 
tioned it again?" 

Maggie nodded. 

"But don ' t you see , you have never for- 
given him? That is such a long time to car- 
ry anger. All these years this has been 
festering under the surface, and you have 
been destroying each other over it." 

"I know." 

"How very 3 ad, but it is not too 
late. You know you must not continue this. 
Isn't it time to let go? Y u owe it to 
yourself. You do understnad, don't you?" 

"Yes, you are right," Maggie said as 
3he gathered her packages to leave. 

There's a thorn deep and hard in my hand. 

I could take it out, I guess, 

And feel the pain, as the thin shaft is slowly 

Twisted from my unyielding flesh; 

See my skin pull slightly from a sticky pur- 
ple clot; 

Hear a sickening, slippery sound as the thorn 

Drawn from my palm, 

Anfj taste a bit of bile from my uneasy insides 

As I begin my unsettling self-surgery. 


Vim Suski 


Where oh where is that Light I so 

desperately need to set me free? 
As long as I may search and as hard as 

I might try, 
The darkness prevails and the Light 

remains unseen. 
When oh when will the secret be revealed 

to me? 
This hell on earth is so much more than 

I can bear, 
For it is a bottomless pit, a neverending 


end, with no sign of 

to wonder if I'll ever 

I wait for it to 

And it causes me 

find relief. 
Life was once so innocent for me, 
As I walked hand in hand with it . . 
Remaining unaffected by its cruelty. 
Simpleness has turned into confusion 
And now agony clings to my mind! 


She had gained weight, appeared ten years 
younger, and was full of energy. 

"You look great," Pat said. "I have 
have never seen you so radiant. What has 

"I took your advice," Maggie replied. 
I divorced the bum. " 



Neaxly two years passed before Pat and 
Maggie's paths crossed. It once again was 
a chance meeting at the shopping center, but 
this time Maggie looked simply marvelous. 

Judy Belfield 

Sandra Kacmarcik 



Sometimes when I cry 

I feel the sadness coming up 

from somewhere in a 

cavelike past 

and hear sounds so wretched 

I cannot recognize my voice. 

I watch myself 

and wonder if 

I'm an act: 

Medea agonizing — 

yet, I have never 

lost children, 

suffered great tragedy, 

have never known 

epic sadness 

except perhaps I saw it once 
in Anna Magnani ' s eyes . 


J. Raskowski 


If now I could have 

What once I had 

In another time, in another way — 

My God, it wouldn' t be that bad. 

When mother knew best, 

When dad was king, 

When big brothers knew everything. 

When grown-ups made me mad, 

Hit me when I was bad, 

Yelled when I was late, 

And aaid: "Eat everything on your plate! 

If now I could have 

What once I had — 

My God, it wouldn't be that bad. 

Inside out 

outside in 
Doesn't matter 

where you begin 

Maze of life 

circles round 
For all the souls 

heaven bound 

First are last 

last are first 

Can't be question 
of one's birth 

Upside down 

down side up 
Yes, one life 

fills all cups 

Bodies come 

bodies go 
But one life 

continues to grow 

Riddle solved? 

Puzzles end? 
Are you back 

where you began? 

Is you mind 

completely riled? 
The answer is 

LIFE'S God's Child. 

Wait . . . 

Start again 

you're not done 
Unless you guess 

the Life is ONE 



Judy Belfield 


We are freed 

a little at a time 

as one thing and another 

lets go 

drifts into wind 

like Cottonwood seeds; 

we are left 

not alone but free 

seeking sunlight 

as we shrivel. 

I want to catch up 

all the floating pieces 

each committing me to this and that 

making demands like chains, 

attach them firmly enough 

to suck out the freedom 

once and for all 

so I can busy myself to death. 

Penny Sartori 


Is there a more soothing feeling than 
the one you get when you drive out to the 
country on a beautiful fall day with the 
car windows rolled down and the soft, 
gentle breeze tousles your hair? Can you 
imagine being able to drive every day down 
a tree-lined street where red, orange, and 
yellow treetops reach across the road 
and touch each other while the sun bursts 
between their leaves in golden brilliance? 
If there was such a place* a place where it 
was autumn all year round , I'd move there 

Close your eyes now. Can't you just 
see the autumn splendor? The mums, marigold 
and geraniums are abloom in their colors 
of vivid red, bold yellow, deep burgundy, 
and dazzling gold. Unlike the delicate and 



Autumn, continued 

fragile beauty of spring tulips, lilacs, and all summer long. 

crocuses, the hardy autumn flowers last for Now, inhale! Can't you almost smell the 

weeks. crisp, invigorating 3cent of autumn? Then, 

Then there are the children. When you 
head out to the country, try to be just in 
front of the school bush. The children axe 
so excited! Whey' re all decked out in their 
shiny new lunch pails, which bear the faces 
of the newest Saturday morning heroes. 
The brand-names are clearly visible on their 
new tennis shoes as they race to the bus 
stop with arms spread, as if to imitate 
a bird in flight. They're so happy to 
see the other children, even though these 
are the same children they fought with 

later, when the leaves fall, drive out to 
the country again where people are still 
allowed to burn their leaves. Even before 

you approach the heat of the burning leaves, 
you are warmed by the aroma. 

Autumn is also a time for healing the 
wounds of a love lost or unrequited. It's 
a time for rekindling the fixes of a love 
neglected and grown cold. The beauty of 
autumn stimulates the senses and intensifies 
the emotions. It's a time to fall in love 


Doug Paul 

Sandxa Kacmarcik 



TIMELESS beauty season of leaves 
take full advantage of what life retrieves 
unholy alliance the dark side of love 
the grim reaper grabs with cold hands 
in black gloves 

ENDLESS summei FOREVER today 

love in the sunshine the games that we play 

MINDLESS frenzy orgy of gluttons 
guide my hands in between the buttons 
unwise decisions the wrong fork in the road 
path of destruction the signs read in code 

ENDLESS summer FOREVER today 

love in the sunshine the games that we play 

SLEEPLESS siesta slumber of daylight 
speak to the elders who wander the dark night 
unkind are those who touch but can't feel 
beauty is outside but within no appeal 

ENDLESS summer FOREVER END LES S summer today 


Judy Belfield 


In the ashes 

an iron rod stirs the 

remains of a dream 

reducing it to powdex 

The sweet smell of desire 

sadly lingers, 

fingers through the dust 

like rosebreath 

in August twilight, 

stretching out to invite 

an invisible audience 

to come and dream again 

though dreams lie 

cooling behind a grate, 

the fires finally 


and I am so 

profoundly tired 



Orange poured over 
burnt umber 

Fields flowered in 
yellow ochre 

Spring green gone 
Winter white awaiting 

Autumn's tea cozy 
covers the earth 

With a quiet ho . . 
God breathes 



Judy Belfield 


Pin-striped suit 

heavy with smell and age 

my ten-year fingers 

many decades older 

remember the yesterday 

time as though 

they touched the buttons new; » 

the silky lining stained 

creased fxom folds 

exacted on some cleaning- up day 

when this suit 

and other outdated garments 

got packed away here 

loosely arranged in stacks 

now tightly tamped 

with basement dampness 

drawn from limestone rocks 

gray and ever-cool; 

packed away one day 

when the sun was alive 

and the air content, 

soon after the War ended — 

all the cleaning-up days were 

sunny, I believe, 

and time is mixed here like the suit 

next to a dead Grandmother's fur stole 

cradling a small box 

which holds a German cross 

I have touched many times 

and wondered 


Doug Paul 


The breeze blew in through the open win- 
dow and the see-through curtains billowed back 
and forth against the glass. • As I lay on my 
old four-poster bed, bouncing a rubber ball 
between my hand and the ceiling, my casual 
daydreaming turned to boredom. 

As a boy in the thirties, my summer dol- 
drums always seemed to come just after school 
let out in June. I guess part of the rea- 
son was that my buddies usually went on vaca- 
tion with their parents at that time, and our 
daily ritual of baseball and "Kick the Can" had 
not begun yet. As my mind wandered still fur- 
ther in the recesses of my brain, it came upon 
a s umm er some three years earlier, when I was 
nine. I could remember the passion that drove 
my soul and spirit that season. I was almost 
angry at myself for not thinking of it earlier. 

My passion's name was Nlckadeemis. He was 

fifteen. There was a fine mist, just 
above the water, and I noticed a few fish 
breaking water on the far aide of the tres- 
tle. There was an old plank board that 
led out to the first of three support 
pillars that braced the trestle, near the 
bottom of the pillars there was a cement 
lip that was about four feet wide. It was 
off this lip that I made my first cast. 

I let some slack in the line until the 
current pulled it tight. About ten min- 
utes passed- before I got my first strike. 
I let him play with it for a few seconds 
and then I raised the tip of the pole and 
yanked hard to set the hook. I could 
tell as I reeled in that it wasn't a very 
big fish, maybe six inches. My suspicions 
were confirmed when I landed him. It 
was a creek chub, but it was stout and 

an albino channel catfish. To call him big was a good little scrapper, 
like calling Ty Cobb an adequate baseball play- I figured I'd cast him out again just 
er. As far as I knew, I was the only one who to feel the fight. I threw the line out 
knew the big cat existed. and the fish skipped across the water 

It was early on a Saturday morning in mid- twice before it was submerged. I let 
May and the "fishing bug" had bit me. I woke the weights pull the fish to the bottom 
up early, about four- thirty, and went to my and then I began to slowly reel in and 
closet for my grandfather's old split-cane pole, troll the fish against the current. As 
I had a brand-new open-face reel for Christmas I was pulling the fish in, the water 

and it was a beauty. It had threaded black 
canvas line and it could withstand the tension 
of a fifty-pound fish. The reel was st a i nl ess 
steel, and had a carving in the side of a 
fly- fisherman in some nameless creek. I 
took the reel out of the box and attached it 
to the pole. I carefully threaded the line 
through the delicate "eyes" and tied a number 
three hook to the end of the line. I put a 
couple of weights on about six inches above 
the hook. When I had the rig all set up, I 
crept down the stairs quiet as a mouse so as 
not to wake the folks. Ihheaded out the back 
door and grabbed my can of worms from under- 
neath the stoop. I made my way across our 
field and then I hopped the fence and cut 
through Abernathy's field. At the end of 
Abernathy's field, there was a deep ravine 
which had an old deerpath at the bottom 
of it. The path led me directly to 
Commanche Creek. 

Commanche Creek was wide in places, 
sometimes fifty yards, and it got as deep 
as twenty feet. Commanche is not a place 
where you can guess what kind or how big a 
fish you'll catch. The creek has a potpourri 
of almost every breed of North-American fresh- 
water fish. On any given day, I could go 
up to the narrows and fly-fish for trout and 
on the same day, I could walk a couple of miles the hook from his mouth. The muscles 
downstream to the dam and catch smallmouth in my arms tensed and strained in an 
bass. effort to hold my ground. The reel was 

On this particular day though, I was going locked and yet the line was going out 
down to the railroad trestle. In front of faster than I could reel in. I was 
the trestle was a basin about sixty yards straining to hang on to the rod. 
wide and a quarter of a mile long. I picked The water was clouded with the sand 
this spot because there was no telling what .old Nick had stirred up at the bottom 
you could catch in that basin. 3y the time f the creek. I gathered my strength 
I arrived at the trestle, it was about five- and used my whole body zo giTe the rod 


to the right of my line began to stir and 
there was something moving toward my 


Before I had time to pull my line any 
further, the monster made a lunge for my 
line. I knew by the way he hit he wasn' t 
playing any games. My reel was locked and 

the fish nearly pulled the pole out of my 
hand. I didn't want him to feel the hook 
just yet, so I let some of the line out. 

Within a split second the Line was taut 
again. I repeated the process with the 
same result. By this time, the fish 
had carried the line into the deepest 
part of the basin and it was a full fifty 
yards in front of the trestle. 

I didn't let hi in have any more line. 
The pole began to jerk in my hands and 
the fish started rising to the surface. 
If I >ia^ known what was in store for me, 
I don't think I would have set the hook 
at this time. I raised the tip of the 
pole up as I had with the chub and when 
I yanked back the fish leaped out of the 
water as though a mine had exploded at 
the pottom of the creek! 

He was fully five feet long and 
as white as a harvest moon. He thrashed 
from side to side in an effort to shake 


Ictalurus Punctatus, continued 

one last yank. 

This only seemed to anger the old fish 
and I could tell the hook smarted in his 

It was at this point that the battle 
began in earnest. I knew that if I didn't 
work fast, the fish would win. I knew that 
if I gave him line to run with, he might very 
well use the entire spool. On the other hand, 
if I tried to fight him something might give 
way. I decided to give him line sparingly. . 
Unfortunately when I gave him an inch, he 
took a mile. I reeled in what line I could 
and then he doubled back and headed under 
the trestle. He was making a bee-line 
for the huge boulders that lay in the water 
on the other side of the trestle. 

I found out the fish was smarter than 
I thought. He swam around the first rock and 
the line became tangled. He rose to the 
surface again, thrashing from side to 
side in another attempt to throw the hook. 
I had to walk around the other side of 
the pillar to let the tension off my pole. 
The fish circled the rock again, and now 
I was about three yards in front of him. 

I was at a loss for anything to do. 
All I could do was wait for the fish to 
make his move. This proved to be fatal. 
For, although I was biding my time, Old 
Nick wasn't. The line was wedged underneath 

the rock and all the slack was on bis 

The line snapped and the force flat- 
tened me against the cement pillar. The 
fish leaped -from the fax side of the boul- 
ders. Joyful to be free again, he swam 
back underneath the trestle. And I caught 
one last glimpse of him. He was beautiful, 
his streamlined body had a pinkish tinge 
to it, in the early morning sun. He 
had beaten me. My reel was completely 
ruined. In all the mayhem, I had failed 
to notice that the screws had fallen out 
of the spool and this made it impossible 
to reel in. I gathered my gear and made 
the disappointing journey home. 

For the entire summer that year, 
I searched for that fish. I never saw 
him again- I took to calling him Nicka- 
deemis after the shark in Treasure Island . 
In September, I stopped looking for him. 
He became a legend to me and in later 
years he became as much a symbol of iny 
boyhood as my old MacGregor baseball mitt. 
I was fond of believing he was still 
down there in that old creek. 

I became a marine biologist in my 
adult life, thanks to Old Nickadeemis and 
the boy in me always came to life when- 
ever I came across his name in biology 
textbooks. Long live Nickadeemis, the 
greatest "ictalurus punctatus" of them 



See Inside Front Cover For Details 


Indian summer had spoiled us. We had 
grown used to playing late after 3upper. That 
Saturday night would probably be the last. It 
was getting dark too early. I rushed to the 
door carrying a slab of pumpkin pie, but Mom 
collared me and told me to stay on the block. 

A game of war had already started in 
the alley. I was tempted to stop but sneaked 
past the kids, then started running toward 
the sun. I had promised and was afraid not 
to show. 

After a block I slowed to a jog, ima- 
gining myself the champ doing roadwork for 
a big fight, snorting rhythmically. The 
sun was setting too fast, though, so I speed- 
ed up, feeling the cold. 

Breathing puffs of fog, I stopped a- 
cross the street from the warehouse, five 
long blocks from home. The old building 
was in shadow except for the west side. 
Its old-fashioned front seemd different 
in the sunset, the crumbly mortar and fa- 
ding white brick weren't so obvious. Those 
guys had better be in there! 

I decided to check my reparirs on the 
circus poster tacked to the boarded-up window 
on the west side. I had patched up the 
tiger section on the poster that afternoon 
with Ba/.ooks. The bullwhip dangling from 

the trainer's hand reminded me of the 
King Snake Lonny had killed the day 
we started work on the pyramid. Sonny 
had threatened us with that snake while 
we buklt the pyramid that day, flicking 
it lazily on the bales as we lifted, 
yelling, "HEAVE, slaves, HEAVE!" It 
didn't take the rats long to find that 
that King Snake wasn ' t around anymore . 
Now they had the run of the place. 
Sonny's a dummy. A big, tough dummy. 

I circled around back to the truck 
entrance on the east, sticking close to 
the foundation so ' s nobody would see me. 
The foundation was damp and chalky. I 
made my voice as gruff as I could with 
the pass-word, "Open Sesame. A man waits. 


I turned to leave, but thought again. 
They're testing me! Sonny and Johnny 
live much closer to the warehouse than I 
do. We all left for supper at the same 
time. They should be in there. But 
would they stay in the dark? 

I seiveled my white baseball cap 
around like a catcher to be able to 
squeeze through the jimmied garage door. 
Hugging the doorframe, I wedged 3y right 
leg into the dark then wrigled half-way 



Sissy, continued 

through, shoving back the heavy door a 
bit with my rump and running my right hand 
up and down the moist brick wall in search 
of the light switch. The wall was much 
more damp. inside than out. I'd never no- 
ticed that before. The sour popcorn smell 
of straw was stronger too. As the switch 
clicked, I heard the scratch of a rat scur- 
rying for cover across the old plank floor. 

I tried to look casual as I stomped across 
the room. The only lightbulb in the place 
hung from the ceiling on the other side of 
the pyramid. Sonny and Johnny could be hi- 
ding almost anyplace. "Oh illustrious Tut! 
Serpents and King of the Nile! It is I, 
your chief builder, come to do your bidding." 


Feeling silly, I backed toward the door, 
snickering to myself. Those guys are just 
chicken, that's all. Sonny and Jofcmny both, 
the two of them, were together, and there was 
more light then, and they . . . 

A crunching footstep on the cinders 
outside the door cut off my thought. Ha! 
I'd fool them. They'd never expect me to be 
in there alone. Maybe I could scare them 
away by maiHngr r at scratches. Ha! I'd ne- 
ver let Sonny forget if he ran. 

I tip- toed to the mouth of the third 
tunnel in the pyramid, dropped to all fours 
and backed into the entrance, kicking be- 
hind as I went, until just my head was ex- 
posed. The bill of my cap cut into my neck 
in that position so I swiveled it back to 
the front, rapped the floor with my fish, 
and backed all the way into the funnel. 
Damn! The light! Oh well, Sonny might 
think it was always on at night. 

Just to be safe, I banged the bales of 
hay on my right side, reassign" ng myself 
that the scratching I heard came from 
deep in the pyramid. The straw was seven- 
teen bales square at the base— two bales 
for a wall, a tunnel, two more bales, a- 
nother tunnel, and so on. There were five 
tunnels on each side, making twenty entries 
to a maze that grew more and more confusing 
the further in you crawled or the higher 
you climbed. The pyramid was nine levels 
high, with new tunnels every other tier. 
It wasn 1 t a perfect pyramid shape, but sort 
of looked like one. 

I got the idea for the pyramid from 
HEADER'S DIGEST, an article about the 
Grimm Brothers — not the ones who wrote 
those fairy tales. These guys were real 
lunatics! They crammed bales of newspapers 
all through a six- story brownstone in New 
York, maif-ing tunnels all over and booby- 
trapping them to keep their enemies out. 
One of the brothers was killed falling into 
his own trap, impaled on stakes and smothered 
under bales and bales of newspapers. 

I read it to the gang. Sonny insisted we 
have a trap too, but I usually sneaked in and 
took the broken bottles and stuff out so no- 
body would get hurt bad. That's where he 
put the dead King, though, like the Cobra in 
Jungle Book — guerding the sacred treasure. 

Over a dozen guys had worked all day 
one Saturday, mostly kids from my class 
at Logan, fourth-graders. We probably 
wouldn' t have made it so elaborate, 
though, if Sonny and his gang hadn't 
horned in and made us heft the bales up 
to the highest levels. We had moved 
hundreds of bales, making it as confusing 
as we could. There were dead-end tunnels, 

cross- tunnels, and places like stair- 
ways where you could climb up or down one 

We invented a game called "Mummy." 
The one who was Mummy had to find someone 
in the maze and Mummy him by grabbing him 
and counting to three. Then the two would 
search out the others until everyone was 
Mummy. With seven or eight players, the 
game would take about an hour because there 
ware so many places to hide— the tunnels 
were long, dark, and rickety. After 
every game we had to stop to fix the 
cave- ins . 

I hadn't heard a thing but rats. 
It seemed I'd been in that tunnel long 
enough for a football team to come in. 
I'd just decided to crawl out when some- 
one hissed at me from a short distance. 

"Fritz! Fritz!" 

I didn't quite know the voice. 

"I can hear you in there, Fritzie. 
Come on out and play." 

I edged back a few feet. The voice 
sounded scratchy and old. Maybe there 
was a watchman. 

"I saw you come in here, Fritzie. 
I know I did. You snuck in here all by 
your lonesome, didn' t you little boy?" 

How did he know my name? He sound- 
ed scary. I moved further back searching 
for the first cross tunnel with the toe 
of my sneaker. Maybe he wasn't sure I 
was still there. 

"Why don't you answer, tiger? Cat 
got your tongue?" 

I kept quiet. 

"I've been watching you play in here 
for a week, Fritz. Don't worry. I won't 
squeal on you. I could have done that 
a long time ago. I want to play too." 

Finding the cross- tunnel, I crawled 
forward through it slowly, feeling for 
the first slanted bale to the second tier. 
A loose strand of baling wire scratched 
my cheek and I gasped, choking the impulse 
to scream. Reaching the second level made 
me feel much safer. Nobody knew that maze 
better than me! I made my voice tough. 

"What do you want?" 

"I've told you, child, over and over! 
I've come to play, like at school." ' 

While he was talking, I moved deeper 
into the second level. I could crawl up 
or down to a tunnel in a hurry. 

"Are you one of Sonny's gang?" 

"It doesn't matter, little boy. I 
want to play with you! You probably don't 
even know me. Of course, everyone knows 
you, big -nan. That's why I just can't wait 



Si say, continued 

to play with you." 

"I don't know what you mean. You 
from Logan?" 

"That ' 3 for me to know and you to 
find out! Gueas! You like games, don't 
you? Don't you? Well, answer, damn you 
to hell!" 

I thought he sounded closer. He was 
tracing my voice. I spoke louder than I 
had before, to mislead him, then moved up 
to the third tier. 

"It's too late to play! Mom's ex- 
pecting me any minute now!" 

"Why, surely you're too big for a 
curfew. Why, you're big enough to do 
whatever you want. You can play anyway 
you want, remember? Don't be a sissy 
now. You're a big man. I'll even let 
you tackle me in the hay. I'll bet it'll 
be a lot softer than the gravel on the 
playground. " 

Then I knew. It was Alvey, the 
weird new kid at school — a tall, blond 
eighth-grader I'd hardly ever heard him 
talk before. I didn't even know his first 
name. He always wore a peacoat with his 
wrists sticking out and was always stand- 
ing at the door to school with his sister, 
a seventh-grader. They were a strange 
pair. Anyone could tell they were re- 
lated. She, too, wore a peacoat and was 
skinny. They were both anemic-looking. 
They always stood around together with 
their hands stuck in their pockets. 

One day early in September, I grab- 
bed him from behind in a game of Drag 
'em Home. My buddies helped me drag him 
across the playground to goal, him hol- 
lering all the way that he wasn 1 t playing. 
Sonny and his gang started razzing Alvey 
about us little fourth-graders getting 
the best of him . Sissy, they chanted. 
Sissy! Sissy! Sissy! He turned his 
back on them in his snooty way and 
started walking off. I saw he was off- 
guard, so I tackled him from the side 

spilling him hard then scampering out 
of reach. I expected a chase. 

He just got up slowly and looked at 
his hands, ignoring everyone's eyes. 
Then he whirled around and walked off. 

After that he was an easy mark. 
That week I must have bush-wacked him 
a half-dozen times. I'd run at him from 
behind and stiff-arm him between the 
shoulder blades. In the hallway one 
day I dropped my knees into the hinges of 
his calves — hard — hanging onto his shoul- 
ders at the same time. 


Well, if he wanted to get even now, 
it was going to be my game. He could try 
to catch me in the pyramid. 

"Hey Alvey. Sissy Alvey. Is that you, 
Sissy? If you wanna play, you're gonna 
have to come in the dark with me. This is 
where I play." 

He was quiet for a minute. I figured 
he wasn't about to chase me in there, but 
when he spoke, I could tell he had come 
closer. "Listen, boy-child! I'd advise 

you to come out now and take your medicine. 
I do wild things when I get mad! Really 
I do." 

"Fraid of the dark, pussycat? Come 
on in! The rats are more afraid of you 
than you are of them. They're sissies 
too." I was beginning to enjoy myself. 

"You're the only rat in there! 
I think I'll just wait here for you. 
Your mother will be expecting you soon." 

"Oh, no. No hurry at all. She's 
playing Bingo at Sodality." 

"You're lying, child. Sodality doesn' - 
start till 8:30. Everyone knows that! 
You are a dummy, aren't you?" 

I laughed. "No! I'm a mummy. I'm 
a mummy in the dark. And you're too 
sissy to play!" 

"You know what, bigshot? You love 
the dark so much, I think I'll just turn 
off the light and leave you with the other 

"Big wow! You're scaring me to death, 
sissy." He sounded like my father. I 
was half a mind to fight Alvey and get it 
over with. I really wasn't scared now 
that we had talked. I couldn't delay 
much longer without getting a strapping 
anyway. Then he said something that did 
tingle my spine. 

"Have you got a knife, Fritz? I'll 
use mine if I have to go in there after 

"Oh, dry up and blow away! How 
could such a skinny sissy be so full 
of hot air! You're just trying to scare 
me, skinny. It's you that's scared. 
Skinny is a sissy . . . skinny is a 
siss ..." 

He screamed like an Indian and charg- 
ed the pyramid, tossing the heavy bales 
around like they were orange crates. A 
tunnel collapsed and he screamed again. 
Then he was thrashing and kicking just 
belaw me and to my right, still between 
me and the door. He was buried so long 
I thought about helping him, but he rose 
from the cave-in like a whale surfacing 
from the deep, wheezing and cursing and 
swinging his arms wildly about. He took 
a deep breath then snarled, "You'll be 
sorry, you little brat!" 

He crawled down the tunnel right be- 
low me, scraping his toes behind him. 
He was headed for the middle of the maze, 
but I was afraid to make a break for 
the door as long as he was on the ground. 
I crawled up the tunnel to the next 
stairway. When I stopped, everything 
was quiet. Then I heard the shoes 

"Hey, sissy! We can't play down 
there. Come on up!" 

He roared in anger, standing straight 
up through the lowest tier and clambering 
up the balea so violently he shook my 
perch. Then he crawled into my tier, 
mumbling to himself and breathing very 
loud. I smiled so hard I could feel a 
giggle leaking out as I slipped down the 
stairway to ground level. I stifled 

V continued . 


Sissy, continued 

the laughter churning in my stomach and 
started out. The tunnel was blocked by 
his cave-in but enough light was coming 
through then for me to crawl over them 
quietly. He was still rooting around some- 
where deep in the maze as I backed to the 
doorway. The laughter was bubbling out 
of me, and I got the idea for the perfect 
exit — I flicked off the light! 

And I was grabbed from behind! 

I broke loose but didn't know where 
to run. I heard him thrashing around, 
yelling for light. When it came on, I 
found myself exchanging stares with the Al- 
vey girl. Her mouth seemed terribly small 
and busy but she said nothing. 

I backed into a lighted corner and 
took a fighting stance. 

"You touch me again, girl, I'll give 

you a fat lip . " 

She moved back to the door then, her 
brother arriving bug-eyed and flushed, 
the tendons on his neck throbbing. 

"Look," I said, trying to be calm, 
as he closed in on me. "You two big kids 
can't gang a little guy like me. It's 
not fair!" He had straw sticking out 
from his hair and his peacoat. His face 
was covered with a fine dust that had 
smudged beneath his eyes. There was 
blood on his cheek. 

"Look, Alvey, that was a good chase. 
Why don't you two come around tomorrow 
and we can build the tunnel back. We play 
a game here called Mummy ..." 

He looked like he didn't hear me, 
and he kept closing in. When he got too 
close, I feinted with my left hand, 

Dan Howard's winning conclusion follows. 

punched as hard as I could with my 

right. Alvey moved swiftly though, and be- 
fore I could react, he had grabbed my arm, 
twisted it, and had me facing the other 
direction. I heard his sister giggle. 

"I'm really tired of all you guys 
foolin' around all the time," Alvey said 
in a cracking voice. "I won' t put up with 
it anymore." 

"We were just jokin'," I said, hoping 
to convince him. "It was all just fun. 
W e didn't mean nothin' by it." 

My arm was really hurting, so I tried 
to ease the pain by adjusting my body. Un- 
fortunately, every move I made was worked 
into Alvey' s favor, and soon I was in more 
pain than when he first grabbed me. His 
moves were so experienced that he must 
have done this before. I started to 

"Let me. go, right now!" I yelled, 
trying to sound more angry than fright- 

"Forget it, Fritz," he said. "This 
ain't just for me. I don't want anyone to 
have to put up with your foolin' again." 

"Let me go," I screamed. I didn't 
care if he knew how afraid I was. I just 
wanted to be left alone. 

He pushed me, and I fell hard on my 
chest. I could barely breathe, and it hurt 

to move. When Alvey turned me over, he 
held a knife. He hadn't been bluffing 

"You will not pick on anyone again," 
he proclaimed as he lowered the knife 
to my chest. 

In an act of desperation, I tried to 
call to his sister. "Are you just going 
to let him do this?" I wheezed. She 
answered with a smile. 

I gave up trying to control myself. 
I cried loudly. 

"You time has come," he aaid calmly, 
and I watched as he pressed the knife 
against my chest through my shirt. Then, 
in one swift motion, he cut off my top 

He got up, put his knife away, and 
walked over to his sister. They smiled 
at each other, and they both walked out. 

After awhile, I got up and left too. 
I was still really shaken, but I tried 
to look calm as I started walking home. 

I ran into Sonny after a block or 
so, and we talked for a few minutes. I 
was really mad at him for not being at the 
warehouse when I got there, but I didn't 
mention it. I knew why he wasn't there. 
His top button was missing. 



Joliet Junior College